// Hammerson eyes plans to transform empty retail space into homes, hotels and office space
// It could also fill empty retail units with a variety of offers in a bid to improve footfall, such as food halls, rooftop theatres, event spaces
// Hammerson also posted a pre-tax loss of £354m for the six months to June
The new boss of Birmingham Bullring operator Hammerson has laid out a new growth strategy which will see the shopping centre giant seek more opportunities away from retail.
Hammerson said that it plans to “reinvigorate” its assets and drive growth filling empty retail units with a variety of offers in a bid to improve footfall.
Rita-Rose Gagne, who joined the London-listed firm late last year, said this could include food halls, events spaces and rooftop theatres to boost trade in the short term.
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However, she said the firm would repurpose some void retail spaces for alternative uses such as homes, hotels and office space.
Hammerson said it saw a particularly strong opportunity to pursue this shake-up across its current department store space, where it has more than 800,000sq ft of empty space or short-term leases.
“As we emerge from a unique moment in time, I see a pathway to create sustainable value as we transform the business to become more agile and able to anticipate and respond to this change,” Gagne said.
“We own flagship destinations around which we can curate and reshape entire neighbourhoods and city centre spaces for generations to come.”
The firm, which also owns the Brent Cross shopping complex, updated investors as it posted a pre-tax loss of £354 million for the six months to June.
Hammerson also saw a 6.4 per cent decrease in the value of its portfolio to around £5.5 billion.
The firm suggested it was on the path to recovery following the pandemic but highlighted that it will continue to feel the impact of the rent moratorium for tenants, which was recent extended until March.
The policy, which bans landlords taking tenants to court over unpaid rent, “has led to some retail businesses openly ignoring their rental obligations when they have the means to pay”, Hammerson said.
It said that the government “continues to undermine the attractiveness of the sector and its investment case” through the extension while it also called for a major overhaul of business rates.
with PA Wires